Images: Megan Rei Photography

Friday! We made it. Another week down. It’s gloomy, but warm and the blossoms are COMING. I love this city, but I REALLY love this city in Spring – it’s just so damn beautiful you guys. We have a jam-packed weekend (sister visits, Hirshorn Story Time, Play Dates, Blossoms & more) but thanks again to Kara, have some DC love to leave you with, to kick start your weekend.

We are high school sweethearts who have been together for over a decade, and while Gillian never expected to be engaged (just to jump straight to marriage), Ryan surprised her in February with a proposal in their home.Not wanting to waste any time, we planned a wedding for 30 days later, much to the surprise of our families and friends.

Our aim was to have the day be a celebration of our relationship, pure and simple. We kept it to only immediate family and booked the DC War Memorial as a smaller, more intimate space. Since the District of Columbia allows the couple to act as their own officiant, we essentially married ourselves with a personalized ceremony that we created, albeit one that drew heavily from traditional wedding ceremonies.

We had our parents read poems to begin, before exchanging personal vows, followed by rings, followed by the usual “in sickness and in health” and ending with “We now pronounce ourselves husband and wife”. It was short, fun, and really touching.

The whole day was personalized. The ceremony included personal vows, but also had various family members performing various roles, from the music to the reading to the exchange of rings. Gillian’s engagement ring was also very personal as it was designed around the central stone from her mother’s engagement ring. One of our favorite parts of the wedding was exchanging the vows that we wrote. We had planned most of the day together, but this one aspect was private right up until the moment. It was really special to hear heartfelt words from the person you love most. Also, since we had no officiant, we had to memorize the rest of our ceremonial words. It was really fun practicing our “lines” the week before the wedding (even though Gillian forgot some of them the day of).

After being together for so long, finally making it official as husband and wife was something we both looked forward to. When the ceremony was over and we first called each other husband and wife, sealing it with a kiss, it was a really special moment.

Neither of us were interested in anything too formal. Gillian chose a blush-colored dress that was simple yet elegant enough to feel like a bride. Ryan chose to wear one of his favorite navy-colored suits, one that Gillian coincidentally bought with him in a rush over a year ago with no intentions of wearing it to our wedding. Gillian carried a simple bouquet of white tulips. She didn’t want anything elaborate and tulips are perfect for spring (even though it ended up being a cold wintry day).

After the ceremony we shipped our relatives off to warm up at a bar while we went to take photos at the Jefferson Memorial – one of the most picturesque locations in DC.

For couples that are currently planning their wedding, figure out what is most important to you, and focus on that. For us, it was planning an intimate, personal ceremony and having someone there to capture the special moments so that everyone else could BE in the moment. (We still had to forcefully ban cell phones from our ceremony though.) Ultimately, the day is yours and you should have a day that reflects who you are.


Photographer: Megan Rei Photography | Ceremony Venue: DC War Memorial | Florist: Suburban Florist | Bride’s Dress: Lulu’s | Groom’s Suit: Alfani | Rings: Alexandria & Company | Makeup Artist: BW Lash Studio | Hair Stylist: Franz Sebastian Salon


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